Industry group challenges GSA's telecom services strategy

Coalition for Government Procurement President Roger Waldron said GSA's next-generation telecom contract could be skewed in favor of large providers.

The General Services Administration's strategy for its next-generation telecommunications services contract could exclude a huge segment of providers and duplicate some federal contract offerings, according to a procurement industry group.

GSA issued a request for information for Enterprise Infrastructure Solutions (EIS) in April; comments are due by May 8.

The RFI is part of GSA's effort to develop a comprehensive framework and acquisition strategy for Network Services 2020, which will become the federal government's strategic sourcing center for network-based and network-enabled services. The agency plans to solicit bids for NS2020 in fiscal 2015.

According to Roger Waldron, president of the Coalition for Government Procurement, the plan sets up small and midsize suppliers to fail. The organization's concerns relate to the scope of services envisioned under the RFI and the designation of mandatory versus optional services, he added.

To be eligible to bid, potential contractors must propose a minimum/mandatory combination of voice and data services, Waldron said. That combination will be easy for large telecom suppliers but could be a big problem for other potential vendors -- such as cloud service providers -- that might not be grounded in traditional telecom offerings.

Companies that primarily provide data center services, network and security equipment, cabling, managed services, service-related labor and call-center services might not be able to bid as effectively for the contract as telecom companies could, Waldron said. "It all boils down to whether the contracting vehicle provides all kinds of services from companies or will rely on three or four large telecommunications providers," he added.

"The minimum/mandatory structure, combined with the optional products/services, will unduly restrict competition," he said.

The proposed rules could block a host of companies that are seeking to provide cloud services to agencies under GSA's Federal Risk and Authorization Management Program, Waldron added.

Furthermore, he said NS2020's proposed structure duplicates "major portions of pre-existing GSA governmentwide contract vehicles, including Alliant and the GSA Schedules."

About the Author

Mark Rockwell is a senior staff writer at FCW, whose beat focuses on acquisition, the Department of Homeland Security and the Department of Energy.

Before joining FCW, Rockwell was Washington correspondent for Government Security News, where he covered all aspects of homeland security from IT to detection dogs and border security. Over the last 25 years in Washington as a reporter, editor and correspondent, he has covered an increasingly wide array of high-tech issues for publications like Communications Week, Internet Week, Fiber Optics News, magazine and Wireless Week.

Rockwell received a Jesse H. Neal Award for his work covering telecommunications issues, and is a graduate of James Madison University.

Click here for previous articles by Rockwell. Contact him at or follow him on Twitter at @MRockwell4.


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